“Making” STEM Relevant in Underserved Communities

September 1st, 2014 - August 31st, 2016 | PROJECT

Many communities across the country are developing "maker spaces," environments that combine physical fabrication equipment, social communities of people working together, and educational activities for learning how to design and create objects. Increasingly, maker spaces and maker technologies are being designed to provide extended learning opportunities for school-aged young people. Unfortunately, few youth from under-represented populations have had the opportunity to participate in these maker spaces, and many communities do not have the resources to establish facilities dedicated to making activities. This project, a collaboration of faculty at California State University, San Marcos and San Diego County Office of Education, the Vista Unified School District, and the San Diego Fab Lab, is a feasibility study that will work to address these needs by implementing and evaluating a pilot Mobile Making program in an underserved youth population. It will bring Making to four after-school programs in underserved communities in San Diego by using a van to take both equipment and undergraduate student mentors to program sites. At these sites, between 50% and 90% of the students are Hispanic or Latino and between 40% and 90% are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. The project employs a research-based approach to the design and implementation of the Mobile Making program, coupled with an evidenced-based plan for developing a model for future dissemination. Project objectives are: increasing the participants' interest, self-efficacy, and perception of the relevance of Making/STEM in everyday life; identifying and overcoming challenges associated with a Mobile Making program; developing a model for implementing and assessing Mobile Making in underserved communities; and disseminating materials and guides for practitioners. Development will be guided by five research-based principles for design of out-of-school time programs in underserved communities: access to resources; ethnically diverse near-peer leaders; authentic activities; legitimacy within the community; and ongoing input from participants. To inform program development and implementation, including continuous monitoring and adjustment throughout the two-year initiative, the evaluation component will use a mixed methods approach to study outcomes with respect to the students, their parents and the undergraduate mentors. Future work will apply the lessons learned in the project to guide implementations and study the model's applicability in other informal education settings. The dissemination plan will include publication of project findings, activities, practitioner's guides, and the model for implementing making programs in underserved communities.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Team Members

Edward Price, Principal Investigator, University Auxiliary and Research Services Corporation
Charles de Leone, Co-Principal Investigator, California State University


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1423612
Funding Amount: 296719


Access and Inclusion: English Language Learners | Ethnic | Racial | Hispanic | Latinx Communities | Low Socioeconomic Status
Audience: Educators | Teachers | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Parents | Caregivers | Undergraduate | Graduate Students | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Making and Tinkering Programs | Public Programs